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Development Proposal for Goat Island — Statement from The Urban Development Corporation

The  Urban  Development  Corporation  (UDC),  notes  the  article  published  in  the Gleaner of Saturday, May 4, 2013, under the headline “UDC blocks Little Goat Island project, irks developers”, and wishes to place this matter in perspective.

The Corporation which has management authority of the Hellshire Hills and Goat Islands in St. Catherine anticipates prior consultation by any potential developer, for  property  which  it  owns.  This  was  not  the  case  in  the  instance  of  the  Old Harbour Development Area Committee (OHDAC). 

As  part  of  the  efforts  to  protect  the  rich  biodiversity  that  is  found  within  the Hellshire  environment,  the  Corporation  has  over  the  years,  along  with  various stakeholders  engaged  in  a  combination  of  environmental  monitoring  and  public education activities.  Cognisant of its responsibility and the ever growing national threat of deforestation to support the charcoal trade, the UDC has engaged an arm of the national security forces to be a part of this process. As such, the Goat Islands has been identified as the suitable base from which this operation can take place.

With respect to the OHDAC proposal, we wish to reiterate that the UDC was only approached about this project in November 2012, after the community group had secured the funding and at which time; the Corporation was well advanced with the arrangement mentioned before. 

As part of our commitment to stakeholder dialogue and community involvement, the  UDC  met with OHDAC, at  which point information  outlining the  minimum requirements of the UDC by the funding agency was requested and should have been provided by March 31, 2013, this is yet to be fulfilled.  As the public may be aware, the UDC has management oversight of Hellshire Hills and Goat Islands which is a part of the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) and for which activities are directed by the Hellshire Environment Management Plan. The PBPA spans the parishes of St Catherine and Clarendon as delegated by the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA). 

We continue  to  pursue the  highest principles  of  stewardship  in  the  management and  protection  of  the  environment  and  we  are  committed  to  continued  dialogue with our valued stakeholders for the development of the nation’s resources within the context of this mandate.

In this case, the UDC must make a determination of the best use of the assets under the Corporation’s management, which in the instance of the Little Goat Island is the one supporting national security.